Hard work, hard lessons led La Salle to women’s volleyball two-peat
MANILA, Philippines - In the game of volleyball, a fifth and deciding set usually means a treat for viewers, but a dreaded situation for the teams playing through it.
It usually equates to no room for errors, and the first one to buckle under pressure eventually loses.
That’s why fans scattered around the Big Dome on Saturday had their heads bowed down the entire Set 5 between the Ateneo Lady Eagles and the De La Salle University Lady Spikers, praying for their respective teams to make it through.
The Season 79 championship was on the line for La Salle, a Game 3 rubber match for Ateneo.
“Sabi ko lang, ayoko umabot ng Game 3,” said Lady Spikers’ head coach Ramil de Jesus. “Sabi ko sa kanila, tatapusin natin ngayon. Maniwala lang kayo.”
(I told myself, I don’t want this to go to a Game 3. I told the girls that we’ll finish it off today - to just believe.)
With the championship sashes and trophy finally at hand, the Lady Spikers could only credit the hard work they have endured to pull through with the back-to-back. (READ: MVP Baron played for teammates, Lasallian community – not to prove self)
“[Dahil] sa sistema siguro,” said De Jesus of his team’s 10th championship. “Then ‘yung hardwork, at ‘yung disiplina ng mga bata.”
(It’s probably because of our system. Then there’s the hardwork and the discipline of the kids.)
Journey back to the title
While Ateneo emerged as the top team after the eliminations, the Lady Spikers meanwhile went through an upward journey to get to this point.
But the patience and the climb were all worth it in the end.
“Pinilit lang naming habulin. Dahil alam ko, nagstart kami [na] medyo hilaw pa ‘yung team namin,” said the Taft crew’s mentor.
The team’s defeat to the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons early in the first round served as a wake-up call, forcing a younger La Salle team to step up to the plate.
“Sabi ko, habol pa. Ang nakakatuwa lang, ‘yung mga bata, 'yung determinasyon na humabol, nandoon.”
(We just tried to keep pace. I know we started slow. I told them to keep trying, and the good thing is, the determination was there for the kids.)
While most of the team credited graduating skipper Kim Fajardo as a main inspiration to win the crown, the playmaker noted that it was the Lady Spikers' teamwork that got them through this tough season.
“Sobrang saya ko talaga, kasi hindi ko naramdaman na ako ‘yung pinakamatanda sa amin,” shared this year’s Best Setter and Best Server.
“Hindi ko naramdaman na ako ‘yung mag-isa, ako lang ‘yung lumalaban. Never ko nafeel ‘yun, never nila pinaramdam sa akin ‘yun.”
(I’m really happy because it didn't feel like I was the only veteran in the team. I wasn’t the only one fighting and carrying the team - they never let me feel that way.)
With another year of experience under the belts of the improved La Salle roster, the Lady Spikers will be entering Season 80 again as title contenders. Tin Tiamzon, for her part, wants to take it step by step - just like her team did this year.
“We still have a lot of veterans in our team, so we’ll just keep on working hard and give our hearts out in every training until we hopefully get a championship going to the Finals again,” Tiamzon told Rappler.
De Jesus, on the other hand, wants to relish the championship feeling first before diving right back in his plans for the next tournament.
“Enjoyin ko muna ito [championship], bago ako mamroblema next year,” he closed with a laugh. (I’ll enjoy this first before I think about next year.)
Following the awarding ceremony, the Lady Spikers likewise expressed their utmost gratitude to the whole Lasallian community which had their backs through thick and thin.
“Thank you so much for never doubting us, even if others said we wouldn't make it to the top 5,” Tiamzon addressed the green-and-white supporters.
“Thank you for always being there through thick and thin, through all the losses and the wins. Thank you for celebrating with us. Hopefully this [championship] is enough to thank you for the support.”－Rappler.com